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Peaks to Craters Byway
"I think it's the diversity and wide range of experience that you can have on the byway system in Idaho that makes it so unique. And if you're not in a hurry it's an extraordinary way to get outside and recreate in one of the nation's most beautiful places."
The Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway is one of Idaho's newer byways but also one of its most diverse. On this route there are massive lava flows, wetlands, high desert and some of Idaho's tallest mountains. The bway runs right along the magnificent Lost River Mountain Range which features nine of Idaho's highest peaks including the tallest in the state, Mount Borah.
You can begin your adventure on this byway near the junction of Idaho 75 and US 20. Not far from the junction are the crystal clear waters of Silver Creek. Silver Creek is a large spring-fed creek that attracts anglers from all over the world who are seeking big rainbow and brown trout.
Further east on the byway is the Carey Lake Wildlife Management area, home to dozens of species of birds and waterfowl. Continuing east travelers run into the jumbled lavas of Craters of the Moon National Monument. The unusual landscapes of the area attract nearly a quarter million visitors each year. Not far from the monument is Arco, Idaho, the first city in the world to be lit by atomic energy. At the Idaho Science Center in town you can learn about that history and see a collection of displays about nuclear energy.
North of Arco you enter the Lost River Valley with its spectacular views of the Lost River Range. In the town of Mackay you can check out some great mining history on the Mackay Mine Hill tour. Ore was first discovered in this area back in 1879. Continuing up the valley there are spots to access the Big Lost River and to stop at Mackay Reservoir.
Past the reservoir the mountains seem to get even bigger. By the time you reach the 12,662 foot Mt. Borah, you are very impressed with this range. And just below Idaho's tallest peak there's an Earthquake Interpretive site that describes the huge earthquake that occurred here in 1983. Measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, it caused the mountain range to rise almost a foot while the valley dropped from seven to nine feet. And you encounter the final bit of spectacular geology on this byway as you wind through the towering cliffs of Grandview Canyon.